I am compiling a follow up to my Ken Dodd tribute book Absent Friends to be published in November 2020 and would like to invite readers of The Stage to send in their Doddy tributes for possible inclusion.
This new project has the support of his widow, Anne, who has kindly offered to edit the book with me. I am looking for long or short contributions in the form of stories, poetry or artwork. I would love to hear people’s accounts and memories of their meetings with Doddy, their experiences while seeing him in action on stage or TV – or a chance meeting with him in the street.
Other tributes are welcome – they don’t have to be of a personal nature, but all contributions must be original and factual. Please contact me via email: firstname.lastname@example.org
As a member of Equity for more than 60 years, I am concerned about the union’s proposed referendum to change rule 3 (‘Objects, Powers and Duties’) – in particular the current rule 3.1.1, which states we are “non-party political” and “non-sectarian”. If passed, the rule will be worded “as a trade union that is independent of any political party or religious faith”.
The word ‘sectarian’ includes all prejudice. Removing ‘non-sectarian’ gives the impression that it is acceptable to be racist, sexist or homophobic and that anti-Semitism or ageism are somehow allowed. Although rule 22.214.171.124 does make reference to equality law, this is lost in the detail – indeed, it is no longer included under the main rule: Objects, Powers and Duties.
Keeping Equity non-political and non-sectarian has always been considered important. In 1978, some Equity councillors took the rule to the House of Lords for endorsement and it became enshrined as a ‘protected rule’. This was strengthened by referendum in 1983 which added the word ‘party’ and we were all proud of the fact that we were neither party political nor sectarian.
Some of our long-standing members believe that, since it was endorsed by the House of Lords, it would have to be repealed by the House of Lords. I wonder if anyone would like to finance such a re-endorsement?
No matter what the complexion of the government of the day, actors have always been considered luxury items rather than necessities. We are only really appreciated in times of unrest when our morale-boosting talents are valued.
Until now, we have had one important guarantee: equality for all members was enshrined in the rule book in the current wording. The proposed rewording of the rule does not give the same assurance and we cannot see what the future holds or if the laws of the country may change.
This is an very worrying change and definitely a case of ‘if it’s not necessary to change, it is necessary not to change’. I cannot emphasise enough how important it is to keep rule 3.1.1 as it is. I can only hope the rest of the membership agrees with me.
I wish to support Tony Morris’ letter on the motion at Equity conference 2019.
However, as a currently re-elected committee member of the Leeds and District General branch, I am surprised that the writers of the open letter that prompted his response were unaware of decisions passed in a clear democratic vote, especially as some of them have served on Equity Council.
Shipley, West Yorkshire
Readers of playwright Florian Zeller’s quote on the use of ‘yes’ and ‘no’ in a play should be wary.
In novels, even if the reader doesn’t quite get their significance of these words when spoken, they can go back and read it again. But a theatre audience has no such opportunity, so it needs to know immediately what is going on and where the story is leading.
As Alfred Hitchcock said: “You can mystify your characters but you must never mystify your audience.”
There were first-night gremlins in the wings for Gaslight at Theatre Royal Windsor on September 18. The technical staff should be congratulated for correcting sound problems at the interval that had made the onstage action unintelligible throughout the first act.
There was a long pause before the applause at the end of Act I, but it was not the actors’ fault. The audience was probably perplexed at the indistinct dialogue, which, by the nature of Patrick Hamilton’s script, had to be loud and argumentative, but was not well served by the sound system.
The problem that almost turned the suspense-drama into a tragedy was surely the fact that no one had turned off the amplified voices, which marred the performance.
Actors’ voices have rung off the back wall of the Theatre Royal unaided since 1910, long before the credit ‘sound designer’ appeared in theatre programmes.
In the past, a fine stage actor such as Martin Shaw would have had no difficulty performing without amplification.
Let’s never forget that the technology should serve the actor. If it fails, kick it out of the way – the audience wants the actor and the play.
Email address supplied
“Theatre allows for this extraordinary moment of contemplation with yourself and the world you live in. And if you grow up in a society filled with incredible political tension, you see the worst of humanity, but perhaps also the best. We are savages, but also capable of extraordinary transformation. I’m always interested in the stories that illuminate both.” – director Yaël Farber (Telegraph)
“It turns out that being paid is actually really empowering because you feel valued for your job. I’ve noticed an extreme shift in how women are valued. And it’s not just me. It’s friends of mine within the industry as well. And it’s long overdue.” – actor Sienna Miller (Times)
“People are politically re-engaged. Different times create different audiences. I think the National Theatre was set up when it was because it was a moment when we suddenly wanted to walk in other people’s shoes. Now, when nationalism is on the rise, it seems important to set these questions [of patriotism] out there. Whether they get to the ‘right’ audience or not is another question.” – actor Keira Knightley (Observer)
“I find writing really, really hard and painful, but I’d like to say, just honestly, from the bottom of my heart, that the reason that I do it is this… It’s just really wonderful to know that a dirty, pervy, angry, messed-up woman can make it to the Emmys.” – actor and writer Phoebe Waller-Bridge an Emmy for the TV adaptation of Fleabag
“UK viewers often complain that US imports are better, or that our own channels are full of repeats, cookery and reality shows. However, nights like the Emmys remind us that our TV industry is pretty darned spectacular. The British aren’t just coming. We’re coming out on top.” – journalist Michael Hogan (Telegraph)
Email your views to email@example.com. Please mark your email as ‘for publication’. The Stage reserves the right to edit letters for publication.